My husband and I had only been on one cruise previously, which was 10 years ago on the Carnival Triumph. We remembered stellar service and phenomenal food. Expected the same again. Did we get it? Um...no. This might be our last time on Carnival. Not sure, will have to check reviews of other lines to see if they are any better for the price.
We had balcony cabin 6210 which was all the way forward. The cruise was on the rough side (I had to take Dramamine every day) which may have accounted for the intermittent LOUD banging that would wake the dead. We never did figure out what it was. It sounded like the lifeboats were banging against the side of the ship, but when I checked that, they were motionless. I don't know much about the inner workings of a ship, so who knows what it was...next time, we will get a cabin more to the center of the ship, and up higher than Deck 6.
Our room steward was exceptionally friendly, but then anyone More
working for tips usually is. Other than him, we found most staff to be robotic (at the good end), surly (at the bad end), or somewhere in between. Honestly, we found staff smiles to be few and far between. Most of them looked and acted like they wanted to be anywhere but where they were. The girl at the towel hut was downright rude when I asked a question of her. She did not answer, she merely rolled her eyes at me (yes, really). The workers on the buffet lines tried to look right through you. Did any of them actually want to be there, we had to wonder.
We ate dinner in the dining room only 3 times, each time hoping for a better experience. The cutbacks from ten years ago are evident here more than anywhere else.
We were assigned to the Golden Olympian room, and we had opted for "Your Time Dining", which needs to be renamed "Long Time Dining". Only one night of the three did we get hot food. The first time -- Sunday -- was so uncomfortable. Our table for two was only a couple of inches away from the one next to it and every word we said was intently listened to by the elderly couple next to us. The waitperson was distracted and non-attentive. I guess that's what happens when you opt for Your Time dining, since they know they will most likely not see you again.
Monday night we asked for a more private table, and were assigned one by itself, next to a wall (table 214). At least it was private. We did like our waitperson that night. Tatiana had a ready smile and pleasant conversation, which by that time, we found quite refreshing. I had the filet mignon and short rib combo -- I asked for medium rare, which arrived overcooked and cold.
We opted for Emile's, the buffet on the Lido deck the next few nights, and on Thursday decided to give the dining room another try. We could not get table 214 again, but we at least did get a table for 2 that did not butt up to another table. This was the best meal of the entire cruise -- the rack of lamb was impeccably prepared and presented, and wonder of wonders, tasted hot and fresh. Unfortunately, the service was not as favorable. Our waiter was much more attentive to the large table of 10 next to us, which was annoying but not overly so. I can understand that a large party needs more attention. The girl bringing drinks was another story. I saw her wandering around with our drinks, with a lost look on her face, for some time before she finally delivered my husband's beer -- without a glass (drinking beer from a bottle with rack of lamb just seems wrong somehow). She then inexplicably turned and served my Grey Goose to the table of 10 next to us! I sat without a drink until the waiter finally noticed and said "Please forgive her, she got lost." Lost? Between two tables not more than 3 feet apart? Again I am shrugging. It took no less than 10 more minutes to finally receive the drink. When she finally brought it, she made me repeat TWICE what drink I had ordered. I wanted to throttle the poor girl, but felt bad for her instead, because she looked so despondent over the whole thing.
We tried the Silver Olympian dining room for breakfast only one time, which was one time too many. My husband ordered pancakes -- when the dish arrived and the waiter removed the cover, there were two small, very lonely looking pancakes on the plate. No fruit or other garnish, and no syrup. That would be another five minute wait. If the pancakes were hot to begin with, they were certainly not by the time the syrup got there. I ordered Eggs Benedict -- and they were quite old by the look of the congealed hollandaise sauce that blanketed them. So much for dining room breakfasts...
The buffet lines were pretty much what you would expect -- long and slow. The food was ok for the most part, and at least hotter than what we got in the dining room. The food at Fish and Chips was very, very good. Ours was made to order, so was definitely hot!
I do not remember our fellow cruisers from ten years ago being so ...wow, what is the word to use here? If you have ever seen the hilarious "Walmart People" emails that are constantly making the rounds, you know what I mean. I know that most people opt for Carnival due to the pricing, but come on people...really??? I don't mean for this to sound condescending, because we are certainly not silver-spoon people by any stretch of the imagination -- but I will gladly pay more for our next cruise if it means not having to sail with this type of crowd again.
One word: AWESOME
I won't comment on the ports, since we were really there for the sun and relaxation. We did not want to pay the exorbitant excursion fees, and we only got off the ship once, in San Juan. The fort there was really interesting, and worth the walk to get there. The other ports were just shopping (not interested) and beaches (we opted for the mostly empty Lido deck on port days and LOVED it.)
Again, I am really not sure we'll cruise with Carnival again... Less